While his Far Eastern University (FEU) players take a much-deserved break from the UAAP cage wars, coach Nash Racela will have to deal with a much tougher task as one of the assistant coaches of Gilas Pilipinas for the FIBA Asia Championship.
"We will take advantage of the break for the guys to rest but I cannot rest because of FIBA Asia," Racela said as he braces for two pressure-filled weeks.
He said he plans to hold early morning practices for the Tamaraws before joining national team mentor Chot Reyes and the rest of the coaching staff for the evening matches of Gilas at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Asian Championship is slated Aug. 1-11 with the top three teams advancing to the FIBA Basketball World Cup next year in Spain.
"I would rather finish my work with FEU in the morning para makapag-focus na ako sa Gilas," said Racela, whose team normally starts practice about an hour before sunset.
As he goes double-duty, Racela will also have to work on keeping FEU sharp before second round hostilities begin on Aug. 14 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
There are concerns as to whether the lull may shatter FEU's momentum but Racela believes otherwise, stressing that the team has been busy since the offseason with stints in Filoil and PBA D-League tourneys.
"Some struggling teams will say na maganda 'tong break na 'to para makapag-ayos tayo, others will say it will break momentum but importante pa din ang pahinga," he said. "We would rather have this than not having one. Our concern is to be fresh going into the second round."
Far from being labeled as title contenders during the preseason, FEU defied the experts with a scintillating run led by the backcourt duo of Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia and role players like Mike Tolomia, Roger Pogoy, Mac Belo and Christian Sentcheu.
He is bracing for stiff opposition in the second round as teams gear up for Final Four positions.
University of Santo Tomas, La Salle and University of the East share 4-3 slates while Ateneo, La Salle and Adamson are tied at 3-4.
University of the Philippines remains the only winless team at 0-7, though most teams have labeled them as a dangerous team despite the record.
"We expect every team to be tough in the second round," Racela said. "Most of the teams were dealing with eligibilities and injuries in the first round and we were fortunate enough not to have those issues. But the teams will be complete and come the second round it's a new environment so importante sa amin is to be ready."
FEU returns to action on Aug. 14 against NU. The Tams won the first round, 87-83, after firing 15 triples.